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Zen Keys: A Guide to Zen Practice (1973)

by Thich Nhat Hanh

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529547,028 (3.68)5
Thich Nhat Hanh brings his warmth and clarity to this unique explication of Zen Buddhism. Beginning with a discussion of daily life in a Zen monastery, Nhat Hanh illustrates the character of Zen as practiced in Vietnam, and gives the reader clear explanations of the central elements of Zen practice and philosophy. Thorough attention is given to concepts such as Awareness and Impermanence, and to contemporary issues such as the conflicts between modern technology and spirituality. The final section includes a set of 43 koans from the 13th century Vietnamese master, Tran Thai Tong, which are translated here for the first time into English. Originally published in 1974, Zen Keys has been unavailable for several years but is now reissued by popular demand. Readers will find it as fresh today as when it was first written, and will be struck by the timelessness of its insights. What makes this work particularly compelling is that Nhat Hanh is able to invigorate what in other presentations may seem like empty abstract principles. The example he has set in his own life as a relentless advocate for peace brings strength and a realistic understanding to idealistic Buddhist goals. In Zen Keys, Thich Nhat Hanh presents the philosophy which has enabled him to be mindful of peace in every moment. An excellent introduction from Philip Kapleau (author of the classic Three Pillars Of Zen ) provides background on the emerging American Zen tradition.… (more)
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Showing 4 of 4
A great introduction to Zen, with some of the best explanations of what it is as I have ever found in a book. The middle might get weighed down a bit with the explanations of the various schools of Zen and the history of them in India and China. But overall, a really lucid explanation of what Zen is. ( )
  rumbledethumps | Mar 23, 2021 |
I really wanted to get into this book because of all practices and religions the Buddhism-informed or based ones really resonate with me the most. However, this got too far into terminology and abstract thought for me to the point I couldn't follow. In the beginning I was able to grasp that our concepts that we form and try to teach to each other are not reality. ( )
  britabee | Aug 13, 2020 |
Thich Nhat Hanh is a true Zen master, utilizing his ability of skillful means to reach a variety of audiences. His books such as "Love" and "Living Buddha, Living Christ" are examples of his skillful means to an audience that needs an "easier" way to understand (not that those books aren't wonderful). Zen Keys can be considered a medium level book, with a good amount of philosophy from Zen and other Buddhist schools as well as history, a lot of Vietnamese names and terms, as well as 30+ koans translated by Hanh.
As a college student studying religion, I found this book to be extremely wonderful- Hanh can express in fewer words the essence of Zen than other sources can do in pages, with dense and overdone writing. Also see Alan Watts (Spirit of Zen) for more of this same kind of material.
I highly recommend this book to anyone who is interested in Zen, Buddhism, or 'enlightenment'. You will find yourself surprised to realize how simple it can be to reach Nirvana... that is, if your mind is ripe.
  Langri_Tangpa_Centre | Dec 13, 2019 |
Very readable overview of Zen, as practised in China and Japan as well as Vietnam, by the most important Zen teacher alive today. Includes 43 kopans and commentaries by the medieval Vietnamese Zen teacher Tran Thai Thong. Also an introduction by Philip Kapleau.
1 vote JamesBlake | Jun 5, 2010 |
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Thich Nhat Hanh brings his warmth and clarity to this unique explication of Zen Buddhism. Beginning with a discussion of daily life in a Zen monastery, Nhat Hanh illustrates the character of Zen as practiced in Vietnam, and gives the reader clear explanations of the central elements of Zen practice and philosophy. Thorough attention is given to concepts such as Awareness and Impermanence, and to contemporary issues such as the conflicts between modern technology and spirituality. The final section includes a set of 43 koans from the 13th century Vietnamese master, Tran Thai Tong, which are translated here for the first time into English. Originally published in 1974, Zen Keys has been unavailable for several years but is now reissued by popular demand. Readers will find it as fresh today as when it was first written, and will be struck by the timelessness of its insights. What makes this work particularly compelling is that Nhat Hanh is able to invigorate what in other presentations may seem like empty abstract principles. The example he has set in his own life as a relentless advocate for peace brings strength and a realistic understanding to idealistic Buddhist goals. In Zen Keys, Thich Nhat Hanh presents the philosophy which has enabled him to be mindful of peace in every moment. An excellent introduction from Philip Kapleau (author of the classic Three Pillars Of Zen ) provides background on the emerging American Zen tradition.

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